Planning commission votes yes on Canyon Ridge Townhomes near East Wenatchee

East Wenatchee’s Ray Dobbs addresses the Douglas County Planning Commission Wednesday night.

EAST WENATCHEE — Douglas County planning commissioners wrestled on Wednesday over whether to accept Canyon Ridge Townhomes, a proposed 290-unit apartment complex for the Fifth and Lyle area near East Wenatchee.

But after a three-hour public hearing brought together dozens of people, many of whom opposed the project, commissioners ultimately voted 4-2 to recommend the project, developed by Yakima’s Wilkinson Corporation, for approval by the full county council.

This followed two previous votes that did not pass: one on a motion to reduce the project to 242 housing units, and another to recommend that county commissioners deny development permission altogether. The application is now being submitted to the three-member county council for likely approval.

Several nearby residents expressed concern that 290 new housing units would cause thousands of additional car trips on already strained residential streets, and said the structures would be vulnerable to wildfire risk from brush in a nearby ravine. Planning commissioners said their hands were largely tied that Wilkinson’s proposal met all of the requirements of the Douglas County Master Plan for unincorporated space development.

“That’s where it always gets tricky: how do you follow the law and bring into the conversation what people think about it?” said Planning Commissioner Molly Linville. “…There’s no indication of that.”

Commissioner Robert Knowles launched a proposal to deny the project, which failed on a 1–5 vote of the six planning commissioners present. Knowles then sought to send the entire project back for review by county staff, to possibly tighten the townhouses’ fire protection requirements. This motion died without a second.

Commissioner David Dufenhorst sought to recommend approval of just 242 units, removing a “density bonus” that allowed more housing to be allowed. This motion came close to the pass, but failed in a 3-3 tie.

Commissioners then rejected the opportunity to table the matter for a future meeting and acted on a motion to recommend Commissioner Tanya Davis’ full approval. The recommendation went 4-2, disappointing opponents.

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